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Apr-18-2009 11:40printcomments

Iraq Vet in Pennsylvania Murders Was Radically Changed by War and PTSD

PTSD sufferers can't always leave the war behind.

Salem-News.com
Photos of Nicholas Horner: HelpHorner.com

(ALTOONA, Penn.) - Tragedy and war-inspired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can meet like a head on crash when the nation's care providers at the Veterans Administration, notorious for lies and deceit, deny our combat veterans the care they need.

Nick Horner on his wedding day

This story of deadly, senseless shootings in Altoona, Pennsylvania April 6th is possibly the most tragic story I have ever reported, and if it isn't, it is among the very worst.

The most agonizing fact is that it possibly could have been avoided with a proper diagnosis from the VA. Sergeant Nicholas Horner is a highly decorated war veteran who was sent to Iraq repeatedly. On his third tour things went south and he was sent home.

But according to what we can tell, this soldier, in spite of having his weapon taken away and being sent home early from Iraq, on his third tour, was never officially designated as having PTSD.

Family and friends say this father of two came back from the third tour as a changed man. He had to fight to receive treatment from the VA and nobody should have to do that. In the most basic sense, being damaged goods from the war is not what anyone wishes. They are placed in extremely dangerous positions for long periods of time and they do it for a year each time they deploy.

Our medical writer, Dr. Phillip Leveque, is a combat veteran of WWII and he says nobody can imagine what a soldier goes through when all hell breaks loose in war. I have been to both war theaters and I have seen the soldiers and Marines who have suffered so much.

He explains that PTSD cases, like other medical and psychiatric disorders, are rated on a scale of 1 to 10. The lower the number, the more manageable, the higher the number the more severe.

"Ten's usually commit suicide; nine's often kill somebody," Leveque said.

As we learn from this story, veterans suffering from advanced stages of PTSD can be unpredictable and randomly violent. The thing is, we already know this. An endless list of critics of VA policy lament the ratios of veterans being denied proper care. President Obama spoke about it in recent days.

A close friend of Nick's, Tina Zahurak, wrote to Salem-News.com asking if I would pay attention to this case and help people understand how this veteran was part of the system that is designed to, yet fails to, adequately treat the unique and varying needs of combat vets.

She wrote, "This man was a good man, not a monster or murderer. He saw and was involved in situations that he should've never been in. This is the other side of PTSD, the dark side, the side where one is not treated suitably and fell through the cracks. I was hoping that maybe you or somebody could share his story, so those victims he killed and injured did not die in vain."

Yet the Veterans Administration apparently didn't deem him to be a PTSD case, going no further that stating that he had an "anxiety disorder". If you open a dictionary, you will learn that PTSD is an anxiety disorder, at least that is where the description begins.

Salon.com published an article titled "I am under a lot of pressure to not diagnose PTSD", coincidentally two days later on April 8 2009, featuring an audio clip of a secret recording revealing that the Army and Veterans Administration are pushing medical staffs not to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Army and Senate have ignored the implications according to Salon.com, and anyone paying attention to these developments knows this is consistent with the VA's pattern to date of absolutely and completely failing to fulfill its appointed mission. The agency needs funding greatly amplified if they ever want to seriously undertake that commitment.

The system simply hasn't been designed to work with consistency. Some VA centers in wealthy communities packed with retired military like Phoenix, Arizona, receive praise from the vets who use services there.

Other VA centers which see a lot more in the way of young veterans, are overwhelmed sometimes beyond description. The money within the VA is not always fairly distributed.

This is not to imply that there aren't a lot of qualified professionals in the VA. There are those fighting from within and their contributions are nearly invaluable.

The Internet is allowing us to break boundaries, and mounting public pressure will hopefully lead to vastly needed funding and improvements for vets.

Dr. Leveque says the cost of PTSD in our society carries an enormous price tag, that is if it is going to be effectively treated.

"It's going to cost a trillion dollars to settle these guys down. The war in Iraq has been different from anything the U.S. had. In 'Nam you went for 12 months and some went back for repeat tours, usually if they chose to. In this war they just keep being sent back over and over again."

I don't think there is any way for a person to understand what our forces go through in war. If and when they actually make it through a combat tour, these veterans need to have time to live. The government's answer has been the repeated combat tour.

The VA has been caught in their tracks on several occasions, issuing lies to the media about the number of PTSD sufferers and suicide cases specifically.

But each time the people in the VA weather the embarrassment and continue to work there, in spite of their taxpayer-subsidized misinformation campaigns that have led many veterans to their deaths. In the case of Nick Horner, it led to the death of two innocent people, the injury of a third, and the wasted life of a decorated soldier.

One person shot and killed that day was a 19-year old high school senior named Scott Garlick who worked at the Subway. 64-year old Raymond E. Williams who was in a park, was also shot and killed.

Those who fail to understand the scope of PTSD; perhaps we're talking about the majority of people, sometimes tend to dismiss how completely a person's life can be overtaken.

Americans dialed into this subject as a result of the war in Vietnam. The conflict lasted officially from 1964 to 1975, and approximately 58,000 U.S. servicemembers were killed. Far more than 58,000 have since committed suicide.

According to Wikipedia, "Reports of battle-associated stress appear as early as the 6th century BC. Although PTSD-like symptoms have also been recognized in combat veterans of many military conflicts since, the modern understanding of PTSD dates from the 1970s, largely as a result of the problems that were still being experienced by Vietnam veterans."

The term post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was coined in the mid 1970s. Early in 1978, the term was used in a working group finding presented to the Committee of Reactive Disorders. The term was formally recognized in 1980.

As I read the media reports in Pennsylvania about former Sgt. Nicholas Horner, I read things like "what he deems as post-traumatic stress-related issues" and "claims on his MySpace page that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder" and I see why the public is so far in the dark when it comes to PTSD.

Another local news source, WINK TV, spoke to a friend of Nick's as well as a local support group for vets with PTSD and presented a larger, more accurate picture of what may have happened. This is a service to everyone who has been affected.

Any degree of sympathy toward Nick will be dismissed by some when they learn that he had been in trouble with police for driving drunk and possession of marijuana shortly before the murders, and that the killings were part of an armed robbery of a Subway restaurant.

But if you look at the Nicholas Horner who is a husband, father of two children, and a friend highly regarded by those who know him, and compare that to the role of murderer of innocent people, the contrast is immeasurable.

How does somebody slip so far?

According to the Website HelpHorner.com which advocates for Nick Horner, a friend of his in the states received a phone call from a soldier serving with in Iraq during his third tour:

"A buddy of his that's a squad leader called me one time and said 'Your boy isn't doing too good over here.' They had to take his weapon a couple of times because he almost opened fire on what he thought was threats."

He said when he heard about the shootings at the Subway restaurant, he knew right away that Horner had gone into combat mode.

"I saw the newscast and then I read the story. Right away I identified that Nick was doing what he was trained to do. He did a rear-door entry. Unfortunately the gentleman he ran into at the park must have been in some sort of zone and posed a threat. That's probably why he tried to take him out," the friend said.

Nick's sister Dawn believes the Army has failed her brother and the whole Altoona and Johnstown area.

"We thought the Army was taking care of his mental problems, we were wrong...They were only concerned about how much money they would lose if they had to treat him and all the other soldier that have PTSD!!! This a crime and we need to prevent this from happening again. Contact your Congressmen and women stand up and help us prevent this from ever happening again."

I explained to Dr. Leveque that some people believe the sounds of the bowling alley Nick had visited just before the Subway robbery, may have been what set the incident off.

Leveque said, "These guys, every person with this level of PTSD has his own trigger point where something sets them off. At this point he's got a hair trigger for PTSD and you don't know what he is going to do."

"As you know there are a lot of returning vets who are killing their wives. If these guys get a little drunk, that's probably the worst thing they can do is lose their inhibition."

Nick is behind bars and there is little chance that he will be anywhere else for a very long time. The lives that were lost on April 6 2009 are scars on families that will probably not heal any time soon. Dr. Leveque says there is no doubt that Nick's PTSD resulted in his insanity, and the murders that took place April 6th were a result of that in his opinion. I don't know if that will help or slow the healing process for the bereaved, but it is extremely important to note and examine if we ever hope to restore our society to the state it was in prior to the Iraq War.

I think the story of Nick Horner will be the subject of more than one report. I just checked our archives to see what we have written about the Veterans Administration, direct lies the agency has been caught in, and the ever-increasing problem of veteran suicide and more VA lies related to those numbers.

The articles listed below relate specifically to PTSD, the VA's failure to adequately diagnose the disorder, lies and suicides. These are all Salem-News.com articles. The list is long, but if you are following PTSD, I suggest making this a favorite on your Internet browser because of the references.

VA Busted Again Over Poor Diagnosis and Mistreatment of PTSD Vets - Tim King Salem-News.com

PTSD: VA Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics - Dr. Phil Leveque Salem-News.com

PTSD: VA's Current Snow Job - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com

VA Care: Fake Doctors and Fake Treatment - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com

PTSD: Veterans Administration Scandal - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com

Bush Lawyers Fight Tooth and Nail to Deny VA Healthcare Benefits - Tim King Salem-News.com

VA and PTSD Suicides: Medical Malpractice Fraud - Dr. Phil Leveque Salem-News.com

PTSD Suicides: The Army Can't Explain? - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com

The Oregonian Reveals Treatment of PTSD Disabled Veterans A Shameful Reality - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com

Sadly, many of our soldiers are not getting the mental help that they desperately need. Doctors in the military are being told not to diagnose PTSD in an effort to deny our soldiers benefits. Because of this, soldiers are being released back into society with severe problems. In Nick's case, he knew that he needed help and he actively sought help. However, he was told he simply had an anxiety disorder. Yet this was so severe that the army discharged him early, even sending him home from Iraq.

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BeeD May 12, 2012 5:56 pm (Pacific time)

Yeah, "We Support Our Troops". Too many Americans are worthless, low life, uncaring scum severely lacking in compassion and empathy who need to be wiped off of the face of the Earth. (most everyone else, too) What a joke. The next time some idiot says to me "I support our troops", I'm going to bitch slap them upside the head until the spit up blood.


Dawn March 29, 2012 9:23 am (Pacific time)

Come on people. That man defended our country so we could all have freedom and you sit here and judge him as a monster? I can't even begin to imagine what he had to so through. My son served in Iraq 2 times and when he needed help after returning the army turned him away. I am not saying that killing anyone is right but you go and fight a war or 2 or three and then see what happens to you. It's okay for these men and women to go fight for our country and yes some do die but where are we when they need help? We fight for other things so why can't we fight for those who fought so hard for us?


ann March 28, 2012 3:14 pm (Pacific time)

Nick was a great person no matter what was going on he was always there for people but in his time of need who's there for him.I'll always be there for him no matter what


Heard Enough March 27, 2012 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

Ive read all of these comments, and it really is the same thing over and over. Who to blame, PTSD is at blame, PTSD is not to blame. I have been close to Horner for years, and am also in the military myself. All that I have to say to all of you is this: Until you have been deployed, and been in that exact same situation, and handled it the exact same way that he did, you will NEVER know how he felt. No one is the same, no ones mind works the same way, and who are you to think that you should even have an opinion on something so important having to do with the military or PTSD when you have litterally no clue? The fact of the matter is that PTSD is not being treated correctly or the same in all places. Not everyone gets amazing treatment. Not everyone can see things over in the shit and just be ok with it. Until you open your mind to understand, please shut your mouth.


Tina March 26, 2012 10:59 am (Pacific time)

My heart bleeds for the victims. An innocent young man just starting his life and an older man who had just moved to Altoona with his wife. He was my neighbor and he wasn’t in a park. He was walking to his mailbox to get his mail when Horner approached him. He demanded his keys because he thought one of the cars parked near the mailbox belonged to my neighbor. My neighbor did not want to give up the keys and Horner shot him. I arrived home shortly. I will never forget seeing his body draped with a sheet and his wife holding me as she sobbed uncontrollably. I do not have any sympathy for Horner. He was robbing a subway for money and killing anyone in his way. As I think back on that day, had I come home a little earlier I could have been killed instead of my neighbor. If Horner had murdered one of your loved ones would you continue to feel sympathy?


Larry the Cable Guy August 14, 2010 9:26 pm (Pacific time)

PTSD is not a defense in a felony. The VA did everything possible for me when I came home and the brotherhood of soldiers stuck by my side. If Horner did not receive this treatment then shame on the VA and the DOD but there are many other ways to deal with it. PTSD may warrant and account for irrational behavior but murder and homicide are not excusable because of PTSD.


Anonymous April 19, 2010 9:35 pm (Pacific time)

Beside you all the way comrade Nick Horner. You are in my prayers.


John Doe April 12, 2010 3:06 am (Pacific time)

So what ur saying is if i decide to join the army, go and be in wars, and do things that anyone under normal circumstances could only imagin unles there... then come home and not only shoot 3, in which 2 of the poeple i shoot die, i could legitly say o i had a problem and get off.... no. come on get out. there is no way i could have a problem.... the issue isn't about weather he is guilty or not(horner). it should be focused on not letting this sort of thing happen again, that soldiers should get the proper care. as far as Horner is concerned i feel it is too late. Once anyone does something u can't just be like o i take that back. time moves on, u can't change the past. u can only try to help the people in the future who are still suffering from PTSD. But we are all responsible for our own actions. PTSD isn't a licence to kill, or rob. it's not even a reason to do so. I was a close friend of scott. i can forgive Horner. but the damage is already done. once the paper is crumbled up it can't be perfect again. I feel for people with PTSD. seeing that i too am in the service. if i was ever diagnosed with PTSD i would hope someone would be there for me to help. but if i went to your town and killed ur son, ur brother, ur best friend and said im sorry i have PSTD. could u also forgive as easily... most people can't... but forgiveness isn't saying ok ur free to go. there is a diference between forgiveness and justice. i forgive Horner, but i still wish that justice is surved. If that means he is cleared... i can live with that. all we can all hope for is a fair and just trial.... and help provide means for things like this to not reoccur.


Adam March 5, 2010 11:30 pm (Pacific time)

Scott Garlick was an amazing young man, no matter what excuse is being made for Horner, he deserves the same fate of the two individuals he murdered. Blame war, blame the VA, blame the government, blame Bush; it is all for not. Scott is dead, he was a close friend who had his whole life there infront of him. He would be on spring break from college right now had Horner not brutally shot Scott in the neck, ending his and essentially his family's lives. Horner is at fault, now he needs to own it and accept the punishment he knows he truly deserves.


Jo Zack February 24, 2010 7:59 am (Pacific time)

That's the fed. govt for you! Starting w/ Bush and cronies trying to get poor souls to fight israel's war in Iraq waged by zionists and oilmen!!! Now they want nothing to do w/ their collateral damage i.e US GIs! Bush go to hell!!!!! Bush is nothing but a war criminaland a zionist loving dog!!!!


Lest We Forget February 18, 2010 6:40 am (Pacific time)

you all are missing one thing, this hero who was denied a disability rating from the VA and DOD, means he lost his disability pay from both the military and the VA..which means he lost the ability to take care of his family financialy, he lost what he identified him as a man, his career in the military, and his abilty to provide for his family. I have PTSD, meds make me crazier than normal, no meds make me deal day to day with anger, stress and lack of sleep.... people who have never been to war will never understand what we are going through..and for those who say that the WW2 Vets dealt with it so much better than the Nam or OIF/OEF vets...how many of them took their own lives, went to prison for murder, drank themselves into oblivion and beat their wives and kids.... yeah they dealt with it, at the expense of those who loved them.. I truly feel sorry for the victims of this murder spree... and can have empathy for the soldier who ended up doing this as well. My wife and I run a local PTSD group in WV.. www.lestweforgetptsdsupport.org we want to help others like us at least deal with our issues, and we involve the family and loved one of the vet so that all know what is going on and can help to deal with it too.... is S**ks


Thomas February 7, 2010 12:18 am (Pacific time)

It is sad in more ways than one that most posts are taking a pro or anti slant in their view of PTSD. Last time I checked, we are talking about fellow Americans in a crisis and in need of our help. These individuals did not ask for war nor do I believe most if any have a desire to go and kill other individuals. If we want to blame someone for all the tragedy, we only need to look into the mirror. Consider the following: 1. How many of you have been in touch with Senators and Representatives and demanded an end to this senseless violence. 2. America as a whole has created a myth that expounds the virtues of armed service unto one's country without showing all the suffering that is affiliated with this personal commitment. 3. Our youth is constant bombarded with imagery of armed services and high school campuses are required to allow recruiters to visit and sing the praises of joining the military. (How is it, that an 18 year old is mature enough to join the military, yet not to purchase alcoholic beverages? 4. If everyone believes that the individuals are making decisions of their own free will, then let's do away with Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and other holiday that glorifies and recognizes individuals for waging war. 5. Soldiers are taught to obey orders, and never question the chain of command. (Sometimes mistakes in directives are given and it is the enlisted who are left to shoulder the burden of their actions even when following orders……………..i.e. Abu Ghraib, secret detentions, and other situations that the American public should have been outraged over and demanded accountability for, but yet how many even remember these incidents.) 6. In the war zones, one never knows who his friend much less his foe is; thus, innocents’ lives on both sides are lost. So, if anyone thinks that this do not affects one psyche you obviously are not dealing with reality to begin with. These ladies and gentlemen are doing the dirty work that this country demanded after 9/11, and now that we have grown wearily, we in generally would like to ignore all the problems associated with this situation we help to create. But do you honestly believe that if you close your eyes and ignore that it will all go away. Wake Up America, you created the situation, now deal with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Al December 9, 2009 6:42 am (Pacific time)

You people think that he is the victim, think about the tow innocent people he killed. He may have had PTSD, but that is no excuse for what he did. I lost a family member, and a neighbor that day. I can only imagine what would have happened if I were out side with my nephew when he came past my house to kill my neighbor. And Scott was a very good kid, was on the honor roll, won many electronics awards, and it's all been taken away. I wish everyone could think about the families, what if you were one of the families of the victims, would you still feel sorry, because I don't.


Rick November 26, 2009 3:24 am (Pacific time)

Why does a country that wages so many wars, and has so many veterans from different generations, treat its soldiers this way??? wow guys.


Sean November 26, 2009 3:23 am (Pacific time)

What happens when the co-workers of Scott Garlick (the high school student murdered) go off on a killing spree due to watching their friend being gunned down. Can they blame their actions on something other than their own choices? A jury of his peers will determine his fate. And that there are no questions as to bias, position on that jury Soldiers who have served in combat that know that it is wrong to murder innocents. Let them listen as to how Mr. Horner took his personal weapon to the back door of a sandwich shop in his hometown and murdered a student. Murder happens everyday. So tomorrow a recently unemployed truck driver does the same thing. Can he blame being on the road for weeks on end for the cause? How about a person raised in poverty by a single parent, and feels that he wasn't hugged enough. Perhaps a law enforcement officer, after work, goes out an kills a person because he had to kick another door in the night before. Murder during the act of robbery is abhorrent, and we should have more concern for that boy killed while making sandwiches after school.


Anonymous October 25, 2009 10:54 pm (Pacific time)

It wasn't PTSD. He robbed that subway store. He came in, shot some people, held a lady at gunpoint and stole money. After that he shot a defenseless old man and took his car keys. Luckily the police responded quickly and brought him to justice. I'm pretty sure, pretty sure they don't teach you to rob stores in the Army.

Editor: Well sure, an otherwise outstanding person who does something like this couldn't be affected by the horrors of war, right?  Why don't you stay out of areas you obviously know nothing about, what do you think?  PTSD sufferers have been dealing with people like you forever, your short-sightedness is no virtue and it is nothing new.


Traz Tralfaz October 16, 2009 8:54 am (Pacific time)

Hey Editor: You say that a lot of people in Iraq are serving in safe conditions. I guess we can say that they're "not real soldiers."
That's the same argument the World War II veterans used to express their contempt for Vietnam veterans, contempt I can assure you is just as keenly and vehemently expressed in 2009 as it was in 1969.

Editor: I don't mean to infer anything like that at all, the tempo of the wars change.  I covered Afghanistan when nobody was paying any attention to it, and that was frustrating.  I do not mean to undermine the contributions of our forces in Iraq, it's a Hell of a place to have to be.  


anonymous August 5, 2009 9:28 pm (Pacific time)

i understand that war has a profound effect on soldiers, and you don't know what you would do or how you would become given that kind of situation. i knew nicky, he was a genuine person who has a big heart, but at the same time i almost want to hate him for taking away a young son and someone's father. i will never know what it is like to kill someone because my country tells me too, but at the same time what do you think you are getting yourself into when you join the military. people kill for whatever reasons are there own. i don't have enough knowledge about ptsd except what i have learned in my psychology classes in school. so what do we blame for the victims that were fallen to bundy and the btk killer. should we give them a mental diagnosis and feel bad for them.nick had a choice and he chose to end the lives of innocent people. he knew enough to have a gun with him, a little premeditated i would think. i feel horrible for the families and hope they can only heal from this experience and my only sympathy is to them and the children of nicky, because of his CHOICE he now leaves them without a father. not all soldiers that come back with ptsd kill innocent victims because of something they signed up for. its not like theres been a draft lately. im very torn on everything ive been reading of this since that fateful day. i cannot find it in my heart to have it bleed for nicky. not everyone has to agree with me or even like what i have to say. i knew nick and he was a good person but made a horrible mistake that i feel he needs to pay for. those families need justice.


eileen wother May 24, 2009 10:37 pm (Pacific time)

an excerpt from Diana's Blog And yes, we are responsible for the wars. That brings me to this particular Memorial Day weekend, a Memorial Day weekend unlike any other. ON GREEN LAWNS I am writing a book proposal with a woman who has her own personal journey with the casualties of war. A courageous woman, who had children, who remarried a man with children, whose families blended into one big happy family until, one day, Brian, her husband’s son and her stepson, joined the Army. Brian had played baseball in high school and he was good at it. He was sure that he would get a college scholarship, so he applied. One by one, he read the rejection letters, and, despondent, he enlisted. At least he would be able to get an education. Two days after he had enlisted, he got a letter from one other college. It was a letter of acceptance, with a baseball scholarship. It was too late in more ways than one. He was deployed, first to Afghanistan and then to Iraq. When he returned home, his stepmother began to notice some subtle changes in his behavior. She also found it odd that he was squandering whatever money he was receiving from the Army, and even giving it away to strangers. “Blood money,” he called it. Eileen, his stepmom, wrote in her journal about the Memorial Day weekend she and her husband were hosting for family and friends in 2006. It was a special one, because Brian was finally home. On May 26th, the following day, the phone rings inside their home at 4 in the morning. It is Brian, calling his father. He tells him that he may have shot somebody. And this is when Eileen’s personal journey began, through the nightmare that is PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has titled her book “On Green Lawns,” and we have subtitled it, “When the Walking Wounded Murder.” This is how she herself explains the title: “The conflicts we ourselves create only serve to perpetuate more violence, hostility, war, death, and, of course, tragedy; tragedies not only play out on war-torn streets in other countries but here, at home, on green lawns.” I don’t know what Eileen will be doing on this Memorial Day weekend. AMERICAN HERO... I was watching the Nancy Grace program tonight to find out the latest about that human flotsam named Casey Anthony. Every night, Grace showcases a fallen soldier and winds down her telecast with his or her name and then says, “American hero…” Brian Wothers is at a state mental hospital at Chatahoochee. He will never be on the show, or on any other “Heroes” series, although he saved many lives. And Eileen Wothers does not minimize the heroism of the fallen. She writes: “And I do not forsake, by any means, those who now fight on the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. They fight for what they think is right. I blame our society for teaching them that we must kill people who don't believe what we believe. Do we not see the insanity of killing those who have different religious beliefs than we do, or because their countries possess the oil or the alleged weapons of mass destruction? We never did ascertain the existence of such weapons. But I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out why we are in this war. What I have come to understand, and now resonates in every recess of my psyche, is that war is wrong no matter what the reason.” So, to paraphrase Nancy Grace’s nightly farewell, Have a nice Memorial weekend. And until next blog, friend.


Lori April 27, 2009 6:17 pm (Pacific time)

I will blame it on the VA in a heart beat because of the incessant lack of understanding or compassion a lot of them just dont have. The biggest problem is not the VA or the DoD. Its the governments responsibility and the service branches internal health care system that has blatantly failed. The VA has a habit, however, of denying veterans the care they deserve and claiming we're all drugseekers. I've watched hundreds of soldiers fall apart after deployment due to the lack of care and misdiagnosis's. Its the VA's responsibility to report such problems to the government if they are being stretched too thin. This is going to be an ongoing battle that veterans DO NOT NEED TO BARE. And until someone can figure that out, we'll all have to rely on each other and hope we can make it.


www.pot-you-mentary.com April 23, 2009 6:17 am (Pacific time)

AS A PTSD VET LIVING IN THE SAME AREA AS NICK I AM ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF HOW INCOMPETENT THE SYSTEM AND HELP FOR US IS HERE IN SMALL TOWNS. SOME ARE TOO BLAME..ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE.NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW THE SORROW ALL OF US IN THIS AREA WHO SUFFER WITH PTSD HAVE FOR THE INNOCENT VICTIMS AND NICK.HELING VETS WITH PTSD IS NOT A 9 TO 5 JOB. AND UNTIL REAL VETS WHO HAVE LEARNED TO HEAL AND LIVE WITH PTSD ARE PUT IN CHARGE OF VET CENTERS AND VA MEDICAL CENTERS WE STAND TO SEE MANY MORE VETS FALLING INTO COMBAT MODE AND DOING WHAT THEY MILITARY TAUGHT US TO DO.GIVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF FUNDING AND BAILOUT MONEY TO PTSD CLAIMS AS THEY GAVE TO WALL STREET FOR A START. AND STOP MAKING US PROVE THE STRESSORS.IN THIS CASE I ASK THE SYSTEM,DID NICK FINALLY PROVE HIS STRESSORS AFTE BEING DENIED PTSD.THEY HAVE THE RECORDS AND DATES..WHAT THE HELL DO WE HAVE TO PROVE TO THEM ? THE VA HAS A TRACK RECORD THAT IS HARDLY ADMIABLE WHEN SHOWING HOW INTERESTED THEY ARE IN WANTING THEIR DR.'S TO ACKNOWLEDGE PTSD.PERHAPS ALL VETS WOULD BE SERVED BETTER BY OUTSOURCING THE SYSTEM LIKE OUR GOVERNMENT DOES MOST OTHER THING IN ORDER TO BECOME MORE EFFICENT AND COMPETENT. KEEP US IN YOUR PRAYERS.FOR NICK,HIS VICTIMS AND EVERY VET WHO SERVED THIS COUNTRY EXPECTING TO BE CARED FOR IN RETURN FOR THE RISKS WE TOOK TO KEEP THIS COUNTRY FREE AND SECURE THE RIGHT OF FRE SPEACH. GOD BLESS US ALL.


Jocelyn Davis April 22, 2009 4:16 pm (Pacific time)

Don't blame these soldiers for what has happened to their minds. They are human beings who thought joining the military would help this country. Being taught to kill was undoubtedly against every single soldier's upbringing. Every one of us would be affected and without help we could suffer the rest of our lives. If war ever occurs IN the US, most of us would do whatever we had to do to save ourselves and our families. God bless America and those willing to serve the people.


Eileen April 21, 2009 4:37 am (Pacific time)

Hi My family has also fell victum to a similiar tragedy. I have written a book "ON GREEN LAWNS" in the editioring phase it will need support. part of the proceeds will go to the care and treatment of PTSD for the veterans. Any comments or want on the mailing list Eileenwothers@hotmail.com title It on green lawns pass the word and buy the book.


Nam Vet April 20, 2009 11:37 am (Pacific time)

Editor: In my below post I stated that just approx. 10% of those who served in Vietnam did so in what was considered high combat exposure. Regarding the 40 days of combat exposure during WWII in the Pacific Theatre, this was data put out by the DOD. It was an average amount, certainly there are exceptions. Especially from various Ranger units who in effect had the most impressive victories over the Japanese Imperialists in the Phillipines and Asia mainland . Ironically I served with many WWII and Korean veterans in Vietnam, and many of them were bummed out by the treatment of Vietnam veterans. This of course has changed but no doubt has had a negative impact on vet organizations memberships. The bigger issue in this is how the MSM, Hollywood, politicans, etc. , actually caused the inaccurate stereotyping. This is also happening with our current veterans, same people, just a bit grayer. I fear this will prevent many veterans from seeking help for their PTSD symptoms, which it did for my war. Many will suffer greatly because of this stereotyping.

Editor: Thanks Nam Vet 


Chandra April 20, 2009 10:34 am (Pacific time)

This article is shocking but very informative and I'm glad that this story is getting into the public everywhere. Tim did a wonderful job on this! The public has to be aware of the severity of PTSD and what it involves. Also, when you read this, you think about all of these servicemen and women who are coming home with severe mental and emotional difficulties. Are they receiving the correct treatment or do I have to be fearful of the possibility that if someone has a flashback will I or one of my family members be murdered or injured?! These people need help and that is the point to all of this! This tragic situation could've been prevented. I offer my deepest sympathy for the victims and for all the families involved.


Vic April 19, 2009 6:58 pm (Pacific time)

I feel sorry for the family of the 19 year old..my daughter used to work at Subway, and if she were murdered during a robbery by someone who sgned up to learn how to kill other people, I would have no f****ing sympathy at all. We all make choices in our lives ..I think the problem starts when good people sign up for evil work. People with no sense of empathy or love probably do not suffer from PTSD..it is the inherently GOOD people that have real problems. No conscience, no problem..but most of us are good people and thein lies the problem, Id bet.


Douglass Vivis April 19, 2009 4:39 pm (Pacific time)

WOW!!!!!! I AM SO SORRY TA HEAR OF YOUR LOSS MRS. HORNER ,,,THIS I DEFFINATELY A VERY BAD MESSED UP DEAL THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED. I HAVE A VERY GOOD AND DEAR FRIEND THAT IS PRETTY MUCH GOIN THRU THE SAME DEAL IT IS VERY ROUGH,,


Moffett April 19, 2009 3:58 pm (Pacific time)

Yeah no doubt, all those Bush supporters waving their little flags around like a bunch of morons, never knowing that "supporting the war" ONLY meant supporting Bush's juvenile politics. He never cared about the right things and parades as a religious man. Oh well, it is a nation of fools and who would or could expect more? Tragic, horrible, sad, wrong, cruel... all apply equally to Bush supporters and the broken people his little system created.


Mooser April 19, 2009 1:48 pm (Pacific time)

You couldn't do enough for your hero, Bush. Happy with the results?


Nam Vet April 19, 2009 9:29 am (Pacific time)

I am service-connected for PTSD, and it took years to get that initial rating and in time it increased to 100%, plus I have other service-connections from my service in Vietnam. It is true that normally the Vietnam vet usually served just one tour, and probably less than one in ten who served there were in what was considered high combat exposure, i.e., usually an infantry MOS, combat pilots, aircraft crews, etc.. During my first tour approximately 18,000 were killed. That is approx. 4 and 1/2 times more killed than those killed in Iraq in the last six years. We came back home to a very unfriendly reception, even hostile, including stereotypes that even permeated different veterans organizations like the American Legion and the VFW, e.g. , "drug-crazed baby killers". This still happens today. The average combatant in Vietnam had 240 days of actual combat exposure in one year. During WWII those fighting in the Pacific Theatre averaged 40 days of combat exposure during the entire war (I do not have the data for the European/African Theatre). I simply wanted to show the difference for comparative purposes. I will state that I know literally hundreds who are PTSD service-connected, and I do not know one individual who has committed homicide, except two who did kill from drunken driving accidents. The Vietnam vet and our current veterans who have been engaged in violent crimes, is more the exception than the rule, especially when compared to their civilian counterpart. Still we need to constantly apply pressure to our politicans to increase VA funding. It does not help when government officals stereotype our veterans (believe me I know that experience all too well!), so when the DHS head released a report about vets being easy to turn towards extremist behavior, and even though she apologized for this absurd statement (was it a calculus?), the cow got out of the barn. Veterans have always been reluctant to go for help because of the stigma involved, and we see this continuing to happen today as it did 40 years ago. The media and our politicans have contributed heavily to the stereotying process that has severely hurt our veterans. I don't see it changing as there is overwhelming evidence that supports my opinion.

Editor: Hey Nam Vet, with all respect I have a hard time with your 40 day figure regarding WWII.  Those guys served for the duration of the war and they did not return home after a 12 or 13-month combat tour.  To suggest that the average WWII GI only spent 40 days in combat seems very possibly like a statement in error.  I assume you are referring to the Marines who would fight on an island and then be evacuated until the next.  Short of that, I find your comment very interesting.  Let's note however that the vast majority of all forces in Vietnam were serving in support roles, and actual combat was not something most people who served there were directly involved in.  I state this from the hundreds of conversations I have had with Vietnam vets and endless books.  In Iraq, you have plenty of people serving in extremely safe conditions, contrasted by some of the most dangerous situations on earth.  Safe conditions are not something a person sees alot of in Afghanistan where all bases are smaller as a rule.  Finally, I think it is awful how the WWII VFW guys treated your generation and I always try to remember that the Greatest Generation wasn't perfect by any means.


Bill Murray April 18, 2009 4:37 pm (Pacific time)

Don't blame it on the VA; blame it on the DoD. The DoD tries to shove the responsibility off on the VA. They don't want the liability. Trust what I say. I was in the same position.

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